I was recently asked_
How do you explain all of the hurricanes, mudslides, earthquakes, Tsunamis, avian flu virus, etc. that have recently taken tens of thousands of lives?
You're the scientist.....what is your opinion?
It's hard to lump all of those together from a scientific perspective, as they're remarkably different kinds of events.
Some have blamed the hurricanes and severe weather on global warming, but I'm skeptical. I have little doubt that humans are affecting the global climate, but there's scant evidence to connect the two at this point. (I'm more concerned about driving species to extinction, the earth we leave behind to our children, etc)
The flu virus is something that's much more scary. To be honest, the advent of global transportation has made this kind of pandemic a possibility for a long time. Hopefully, we can identify some ways to at least slow the spread of the virus before it becomes a worldwide problem.
And major earthquakes hit every now and then. The fact that the South Asian one happened underwater and so near to lots of people was just a tragic coincidence.
Really, the only common thread is that we perceive them as tragedies and over-hype them on the news.
Perhaps this will help put things in perspective_
- roughly 1200 people died due to the effects of Katrina and Rita
- an estimated 8000 people who die of AIDS every day
- an estimated 24,000 people die of starvation every day
Humans can't do much about hurricanes and tsunamis, except get out of the way. We could, however vastly reduce the number of AIDS deaths and eliminate starvation - that one is entirely preventable.
I suppose these types of things just aren't newsworthy, though. After all, Britney Spears just had a baby!